Never Underestimate Likeability | Travel Research Online


Never Underestimate Likeability

Here is another major lesson stemming from my days working with Maritz, while pursuing the Ricoh Copier account. This lesson involves a separate division of Ricoh, but I also consider this to be another life lesson.

After months of trying to schedule an appointment with Ricoh’s sales trainer, I managed to set a day and time to finally meet. Due to the importance of this meeting, my boss thought it best if he joined me for this ice-breaking introductory session.

We arrived on time and were escorted to a meeting room where we were to wait for Dan Piccoli. There was a large cake in the middle of the conference table surrounded by a full bouquet of colorful balloons. Our first thought was a birthday was being celebrated, or perhaps a promotion for one of Ricoh’s long-time employees. I remember thinking, “This is our lucky day. Everybody will be in a good mood, and we are about to enjoy a piece of cake.”

We soon learned that we were wrong in both assumptions. Bad news! Their “current” vendor had just won a creative award for them. We were witnessing the aftermath of a celebration for the “competitor” we came to replace. Where I come from, in addition to being more than just bad news, this is known as “bad timing.”



I remember whispering to my boss, “Dave, let’s get out of here. This is a total exercise and a huge waste of time. Let’s not embarrass ourselves. It’s Friday. Let’s pack up and go get a beer. I’ll buy.” He responded by saying, “As long as we’re here, let’s give them our ‘A’ Game before heading for the nearest pub to wash down our disappointment. I’ll even buy you a beer.” (The last time I refused an offer like that was when I misinterpreted the offer.) I said, “Done Deal.”

We met. We exchanged niceties. We congratulated them on their recent award. We outlined our services. We headed for the nearest pub. (I remember it was not the most memorable sales call, but the beer was ice cold.)

On Monday, I received a phone call at our office in Parsippany, NJ. It was Dan Piccoli on the line. This call caught me by surprise. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard him say, “Mike, we decided to give you the business.” I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe pigs can fly.”

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As all good salespeople know, once you have won a piece of business you simply say ‘thank you’ and get off the phone before you shoot yourself in the foot.

We enjoyed a very profitable relationship with Dan for a number of years. Twelve months later, during a trade show in Las Vegas, I gathered up enough courage to ask Dan about his decision to change suppliers. “Dan,” I said, “you had just won an award the day before we came to pitch our services, and you gave us the account rather than continue working with your current ‘award-winning’ vendor. Why was that?”

Dan replied, “That’s an easy question to answer Mike. I did not like them.”

And there you have today’s lesson in bright lights.

Never underestimate the power and significance of likeability. All things being equal, people will choose to do business with people they like. All things being unequal, people will often “still” do business with people they like.

I will close this week’s story with a caveat. It is not overly prudent to rely on your personality alone. I strongly recommend you become proficient in your business. And better yet, get really good at what you do for a living. Really good. But at the same time, work diligently on being more likeable.


A headshot of the author, Mike Marchev

Mike Marchev is always looking for a few more proactive travel professionals to join his Sales and Marketing Club.

*** You want more to think about? Check out my weekly podcast (Mike’d Up Marchev). Also listed on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, and iHeartRadio.

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